Here’s what some of our neighbours, and others from our daily routines in the city, think about the Olympics. [Warning: Do NOT attempt to improve your Chinese by paying close attention to subtitles done by a 2nd-year Mandarin student! ;) ]:
Everyone’s names, ages, and vocations are listed at the end.
Things to notice in the responses:
- 了解 (liǎo jiě). This literally means “to understand,” “to realize,” “to find out,” and I translated it “get to know” in the subtitles. Foreigners 了解-ing China is probably the most frequently expressed idea in the video.
- The hospitality perspective. Many Mainlanders understand the Olympics in terms of Chinese hospitality, like inviting honoured guests over for a banquet, and this shapes their expectations of themselves as the hosts and all the rest of us as the honoured guests.
- China’s place in the world hierarchy. People see the Olympics as raising China’s position on the world stage, gaining face in relationship to other nations, being esteemed more highly by other nations.
- “Our China.” This is a common way of talking about China here: our China, our China’s culture, your America, etc.
You can see how friendly and accommodating Tianjiners are, though the accents indicate that some of these folks moved here from other provinces.
Of course there is much more to be said about what the Olympics mean to China, but I thought it’d be fun to just let the local “Old Hundred Names” (老百姓 / lǎo bǎi xìng / ‘regular Joe’) speak for themselves.
[UPDATE JULY 20: Fool's Mountain, a site dedicated to publishing and discussing Chinese views in English, has published a second version of this post in which I asked their Chinese readers for their reactions. See Tianjin's LaoBaiXing on the Olympics.]